Solving Ontario’s Housing Crisis with People, Process, and Platform

With each passing month, Ontario’s affordable housing crisis becomes more severe.

Across Canada, Ontario has the highest proportion of renters in Canada paying over 30% of their income on housing, and the situation worsened in Q2 2022 with residents in the GTA and Ottawa experiencing the highest quarterly deterioration in affordability since 1981. Far from being a big city issue alone, the crisis has now expanded to small towns and rural communities. At the end of 2021, the average price for a house across Ontario was $923,000. Ten years ago, the average price was $329,000. Over that period, average house prices have climbed 180% while average incomes have grown roughly 38% (Source).

A major factor in this crisis of course is a shortage of affordable housing inventory. Canada has the fewest housing units per population of any G7 country with two thirds of Canada’s housing shortage in Ontario. Today, Ontario is 1.2 million homes – rental or owned – short of the G7 average and with projected population growth, that huge gap is widening. To meet this crisis head on, 1.5 million homes must be built in Ontario over the next 10 years to address the supply shortage (Source).

In response to this crisis, the Government of Ontario has introduced both Bill 109, Ontario’s More Homes for Everyone Act, and Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, to create a concerted legislative response to the 55 recommendations detailed in the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force Report released on February 8, 2022. Proposing sweeping changes to the land use approvals system in the province, this legislation puts all development stakeholders, both private and public, on the clock to facilitate a suitable rapid response to the affordable housing shortage. The teeth in this legislation arises in the form of potential penalties and revenue reductions that will be incurred by government agencies failing to meet the accelerated approval timeframes for site plan and development approvals.

Concurrent with this demand to streamline their planning and development processes and related technologies, many local and regional governments in Ontario are also racing to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) with January 1, 2025, as the final deadline to bring digital assets up to date with the required accessibility standards. 

Meeting the Challenge with Technology Innovation

Recognizing the critical role that technology innovation will play in solving the affordable housing crisis, many jurisdictions across the province have embarked upon or completed corporate-wide strategic initiatives to audit their existing technology portfolios to inform long-range digitization mandates. In addition to the ‘platform’ part of this re-imagining effort, community development agencies are also rethinking the ‘people’ and ‘process’ factors within their development and construction regulations. This as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce red tape and streamline processes via long overdue review, re-engineering and change management efforts.

Such efforts promise to attack the problem of housing affordability upstream where time consuming delays in the development and planning process first emerge before spiraling into the many prohibitive factors that stall residential development. For these efforts to be as effective as possible in both the short and long-term, new technology implementations will need to address the key technology gap. For Ontario’s development stakeholders, this gap exists in the development approvals/plans examination/plans approvals process, where patchwork solutions, large application volumes, and bureaucratic overheads, are working in tandem to overwhelm and impede the timely throughput of approved plans crucial for achieving the escalated speed to market of affordable housing stocks.

To ensure their envisioned technology solution fully addresses this technology gap, both local and regional agencies in Ontario are well advised to focus corporate digitization mandates and the resultant procurement priorities that arise from these mandates on technology solutions with well-integrated Planning and ePlans Modules. By focusing solution evaluation on ‘platform’ capabilities at the macro level and ‘Planning/ePlans’ features at the micro level, community development agencies will ensure the best of both worlds in their efforts to address the affordable housing crisis with timely and effective innovation.

A mature, feature rich platform application with fully integrated Planning and ePlan modules addresses the many challenges of the affordable housing crisis by leveraging the following mission critical features: 

Planning & ePlans


  • A comprehensive customer portal functionality supporting BYOD users with a flexible, adaptable responsive design configuration—fully capable of supporting virtual front-counter services in today’s hybrid-oriented working environments.
  • Automation assisted workflows guiding a transparent and collaborative planning environment: one that facilitates real-time, two-way customer-citizen engagement to expedite information exchange throughout the review and approvals process.
  • Business rule automation enforcing submission/re-submission requirements to improve the quality and completeness of first-time submissions.
  • Automatic calculation and e-payment of simple/complex fees and single/multiple applications.
  • Site-specific low-code configuration to identify and reward highly compliant, low-risk applications from trusted operators (e.g., frequent-use/high-value developers and construction investors) leveraging risk-based controls and monitoring.
  • Elegant and efficient multi-agency/multi-stakeholder referral and tracking workflows to expedite review and approvals processes. System-generated guidance that progresses users from notification to reminder to warning and ultimately, auto-approval of review processes to meet the legislated deadlines pertinent to Bill 23Bill 109, and AODA.
  • A single, consolidated window supporting integrated ePlans management with gold-standard mark-up tools and a single workflow engine driving the plan review and resubmission workflow.

Platform & Add Ons


  • Bill 23 and Bill 109 will substantially re-engineer development approvals over the next year and beyond. Given this rapidly evolving regulatory environment, an agile and adaptable development platform is crucial. Best-of-breed solutions like POSSE and POSSE PLS feature pre-configured out-of-the-box best practice workflows with underlying inherent low-code configuration to react quickly to legislative changes AND drive continuous organizational improvement and optimization.
  • Platform capabilities to support the transition from prescriptive regulation to risk-based regulation, including an underlying business rules engine with configurable algorithms, calculations, and data fields to facilitate the following:
    • Assess and rate risk in real time.
    • Reward proven, consistent compliance.
    • Elevate the role and use of increasingly limited staff resources to ensure their optimal contribution.
  • Consolidated development approval and construction data affording a “one-stop” window into the end-to-end development-construction life cycle, affording the following insights:
    • The ability to mine KPI data, real-time dashboard, and trend analysis using reporting and BI tools.
    • Business intelligence capabilities to support organizational due diligence and forensic auditing.
    • Ability to support a data-driven culture with informed leadership and pro-active decision-making at the both the staff and end user level.
  • Long-term ROI accrued from a pillar development application achieving an extended product lifecycle via the following technology focuses:
    • Superior enterprise inter-operability.
    • A rigorous and thoughtful formalized product software roadmap incorporating emerging development and UX technologies.
    • A significant ongoing investment in product research and development.


Going Forward

With Ontario’s housing affordability crisis reaching a new nadir, the time to act is now.

Fortunately, the province’s community development agencies are responding in kind. Driven by internal mandates for digitization and development process reinvention and bulwarked by current government legislation designed to shepherd process evolution and incentivize timely housing provision, the race is underway to tackle Ontario’s housing challenges.

The logical next step is identifying your most promising technology options and evaluating each in full to ensure your chosen solution addresses the “people, process, policy, and platform” needs crucial to your long-term success.

Why not start the process now by scheduling a Discovery Demo of POSSE PLS, our leading edge solution for planning, ePlans, permittinglicensinginspections, and code enforcement—supported by our industry unmatched 100% project success rate?